Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 349 LONDON, 1 September 1945, 12.25 a.m.


[Y]our telegrams 240 [1] and 245. [2]

1. We support your proposal for increased Australian participation in the occupation of Japan.

2. Notwithstanding the points made in your telegram, which we fully appreciate, we still consider that the general interests of the British Commonwealth would best be served if we were represented by a single force rather than by separate forces. We feel very strongly that a joint Commonwealth force working together in this important field would afford a valuable demonstration of our essential unity in matters of common concern and a good augury for our future close co-operation in defence matters. From the immediate point of view also we think that a joint force of the size contemplated under the command of a single senior officer with a Corps Headquarters would carry much more weight with the United States and other Allied commanders in Japan than two commanders of lower rank in command of smaller forces and acting independently.

3. We have now given further thought to the question of organisation in the light of the resources which the Dominions, India and the United Kingdom can contribute. We have heard from Canada that in view of their commitments in Europe they cannot undertake to contribute either Army or Airforce units for the occupation of Japan. We do not yet know what the United States expect from us and what role they propose to allot to our forces.

If, however, you agree with us that the advantage lies in having one British Commonwealth contingent and not two, then we would very much welcome the appointment of an Australian officer as the inter-service Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Commonwealth force of occupation.

4. If you agree to our proposal for a British Commonwealth force and if you concur with our suggestion that a mutually agreed Australian officer should be inter-service Commander-in-Chief, we suggest that Australia might wish to provide the bulk of the headquarters.

5. On operational matters the force commander would be under the control of and have direct access to General MacArthur. Units of the British Pacific Fleet in Japanese waters would however remain under the operational control of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Pacific Fleet.

6. On policy matters affecting the force we think the Commander should be jointly responsible to yourselves and to us through our respective Chiefs of Staff.

7. We very much hope that you will be able to concur with these proposals which, as you will see, refer solely to the military aspect of the occupation of Japan. Any political aspects must of course be the subject of separate treatment.


1 Document 194.

2 Document 207.


[AA : A816, 52/301/222]